The Most Beautiful Ride. Ever.

I spent the last hour of the ride today trying to go through a list of memorable bike rides in my mind sorted by continent, and to compare if any of them were more beautiful than this. I decided that no, no ride I’ve ever been on has been as beautiful as this.

I asked my friend Kiki to go for a ride with me while in Kenya and she recruited her friend and coach Sam to led us on an incredible ride through coffee and tea farms outside Nairobi. These pictures don’t nearly do enough to capture the landscape. And the single track was too fun and steep to think of stopping for action shots. On rides like these it’s hard to stop yourself to take out the camera, because that would mean doing anything other than looking around with a gaping open mouth in amazement.

It was crazy to me how quickly we left the intense urban density of Nairobi, which I haven’t left for the last two weeks, and found ourselves within 30 ish minutes riding on dirt paths through farms. The singletrack led us through steep quick descents, over creeks, and up steep tracks on the other side, and then some long long climbs connecting them. It felt like we spent 85% of the day climbing, but then were rewarded with a long swooping downhill back into the outskirts of Nairobi (which was on a highway, full of trucks and buses, and much more like the riding I’m used to in Nairobi).

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The Never-Ending Summer Weekend

This last weekend I took 4-days off and had a glorious weekend of summer biking. The weekend was so much fun that I’ve been going through fun withdrawal, and was incredibly grumpy going into work on Tuesday. Although it felt like a never-ending weekend of fun, it did indeed end, but at least I took full advantage while it lasted.

The weather was great – and since this is New England that means that it was humid as hell, with occasional rolling showers. I began the weekend with the goal of doing 4 different types of biking in 4 days. And even though I don’t always consider city biking and polo as different kinds of biking (I just think of them as my daily routine), this time I’ll count it so that I can say I did 4 kinds – road, city, polo and mountain biking.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 10.39.10 PMFriday, I rode with 3 women down to Providence, Rhode Island, which is one of my absolute favorite rides. I honestly can’t remember the last time I went out on a long road ride with a group of all women. It was awesome! The day started with a flat 3 blocks from where we started, so we went back to our start point, patched the tube and hit the road again, to only get another flat 15 miles out. It was a bit of a rough start, but the ride couldn’t have been more fun. The route is beautiful, but my favorite part is always biking through the Diamond Hill Reservoir, which is just the right downhill grade to feel like you’re flying- plus you get to snap photos like this:

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AND, just like magic, as we crossed from Massachusetts into Rhode Island, there was a DEL’S stand on the side of the road. Now, those of you not from Rhode Island will not understand the depths of my love for Del’s, but suffice to say – Del’s is the most delicious frozen lemonade in existence, and it is the perfect biking treat.

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Spring has Sprung

A friend and I went out for a ride this morning, and it was my first long(ish) ride since probably October/November. In case you haven’t heard, we had a bit of a rough winter here in the northeast (the only place on the entire GLOBE where it was colder than average this winter). The last 2-3 weeks we’ve had nice days here and there, but they’ve always fallen on weekdays or weekend days when I had to work. But not today! To start the season we rode out to Ride Studio Cafe for a coffee and back. About 30 miles, which was perfect for a first ride. We started at 7:30 and it was about 34F out and was about 39F by the end. I rode in knickers, a wicking base layer and my rain jacket. Only my toes were cold, but other than that it was just about perfect.

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I know I’m probably optimistic in thinking this is truly the beginning of spring, but damn it felt good to get out riding after this winter.

 

Babes in Bikeland 8: The Bike Revolution is Happening

I went into Babes In Bikeland 8 with one goal: to not flip over my handlebars. Which really wasn’t a very hard goal to set. The only other time I had participated in Babes in Bikeland, the largest WTF (women/trans/femme) alley-cat in the world started in Minneapolis (unverified claim, but I’m 99% sure is accurate), I broke the chain on my fixie and flipped over my handlebars in the first three blocks of the race. Afterward I slowly rode to a few stops and stopped by the after party, but left quickly because I felt pretty shaken up. So my goal of Babes being better than the last time was a pretty easy goal to achieve. I also had other goals: have fun, ride hard, finish all the stops, cheer for everyone I passed on the roads, but not flipping over my handlebars was pretty high on the list.

And let me tell you, it was beyond great. It’s hard to find the words to describe how wonderful, empowering, and rad Babes in Bikeland is.

One of my favorite things about Babes is that it isn’t just about the race – it’s a whole weekend of events. The night before there is a pre-ride, the morning of there is a brunch, then there is the race and the after party, and the next day Open Streets essentially acts as the Babes cool down.

The weekend kicked off Friday night with the Pre-Babes Wanderabout. My friend Low with a team of other rad folks have been organizing the Wanderabout for 3 years. Its a ride meant for new people who have never raced an alley-cat before and are looking for an introduction as to what to expect, want to meet some people so that they’ll see some familiar faces at the start line, and want to familiarize themselves with at least two stops of the race (the beginning and the end). I wanted to attend the Wanderabout because although I like to think of myself as a seasoned racer, I am always looking to attend events that are advertised as an inclusive environment for new cyclists, and I’m constantly trying to learn from these events as to how to bring this back to my own community. Anyways – the wanderabout was awesome. We casually rode for 10 miles, stopped by the beautiful Minnehaha Falls, and ended at SPOKES with beer and pizza. It sets off the Babes weekend on the perfect note saying that this is a race that is welcome to everyone and encouraging new folks to come out.

Then the big day arrived. Babes in Bikeland. It’s hard to describe what its like to see 400+ WTF riders converging in this one park, some dressed in crazy costumes, others in full kits with their game faces on, and everyone super pumped to be there. I wasn’t really sure what my race plan was as I arrived at registration. I hadn’t decided if I wanted to really race, ride casually, or somewhere in between. I didn’t have a ride partner, and I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted one. And then I saw her. My old co-worker Janne was in line for registration. And I thought ‘Perfect. She is the perfect ride partner.’ After hugs and such we agreed to ride together with the motto ‘fun before fast.’ We wanted to ride fast, but still use the time to chat, catch up, and, most importantly, have fun.

Geez I love this lady.
Geez I love this lady.

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D2R2

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Warning on a downhill.

This last weekend I rode the D2R2 with my parents – a gravel ride out in Western Mass, infamous for being one of the hilliest rides in New England. Here are a few things I learned:

1. Biking up endless, gravel hills is WAY more fun than I thought it would be. Seriously. I had a blast. The route was beautiful, the people were great, and the beer was delicious.

2. Charles of ARTCRANK was right that gravel is way more tiring for your arms than you would think. I expected my legs to be exhausted, but at the end of the day my legs felt fine but my arms were wicked tired.

3. I’m stronger than I thought I was. I’ve been pretty nervous about this ride all summer, and so I’ve been putting in miles whenever I could and going out of my way to climb hills on normally flat routes – and the crazy thing is – I think it paid off. Right now my legs feel like they could eat hills for breakfast. I’m proud of myself for how I rode, and I feel good right now. Strange how training can do that…

4. If I thought I loved my Space Horse (my bike) before this ride, I love it even more now. I made a few adjustments in the last few weeks that made a huge difference, and I think I’m finally perfecting the fit. I put on a different crankset, and a third stem, and I think I’m dialing in the fit. Geez, I really love that bike.

5. My parents are cooler than me. But I already knew that.

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